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Steven Biernacki




Location: Chicago
Joined: 18 Oct 2012

Posts: 21

PostPosted: Mon 22 Jul, 2013 4:02 pm    Post subject: Japanese Sword ID         Reply with quote

Hello everyone,

I have recently come across this sword and I have a few questions about it. First of all, what is it and how old is it? It is it a military item or is it a more commercial piece? I would also like to know what the Japanese writing on the tang means? Lastly, I was wondering what the value of a sword like this would be.

Any information would be much appreciated.





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Edward Lee




Location: New York
Joined: 05 Jul 2013

Posts: 313

PostPosted: Mon 22 Jul, 2013 10:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It looks like a Gunto, Saya wise. The character on the tang might be the maker's name, it literately means
二(Two) 清(Clear) 谷(Vally) the last word 作 might indicate (Make). Or in Romaji Niō Kiyotani. But again I can't really see the words as the are not very clear, so I may be wrong.
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Christopher Treichel




Location: Metro D.C.
Joined: 14 Jan 2010

Posts: 268

PostPosted: Tue 23 Jul, 2013 5:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nice sword,

its not a WWII officer sword but in a very nice set of koshiare (mounts) that replicate the old tachi style for the saya. Overal a nice looking sword with what looks to be a nice old blade.
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Ushio Kawana




Location: Japan
Joined: 17 Aug 2008

Posts: 146

PostPosted: Tue 23 Jul, 2013 10:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi all ^^ Happy



thanks ^^

I'm interested in Medieval Arms and Armor.
But... My English is very poor ><;
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Ian Hutchison




Location: Louisiana / Nordrhein-Westholland
Joined: 27 Nov 2007

Posts: 489

PostPosted: Tue 23 Jul, 2013 10:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ushio Kawana wrote:
Hi all ^^ Happy



thanks ^^


Thanks for the explanation, Ushio. Very interesting. Do you have any suggestion as to when the blade was made?

'We are told that the pen is mightier than the sword, but I know which of these weapons I would choose.' - Adrian Carton de Wiart
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Ushio Kawana




Location: Japan
Joined: 17 Aug 2008

Posts: 146

PostPosted: Tue 23 Jul, 2013 12:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi all ^^ Happy

Ian Hutchison wrote:
Quote:
Do you have any suggestion as to when the blade was made?

If we can read his name. We know the time made the sword...
But I cannot distinguish the letter(2nd) of his name.
The old Japanese kanji is different from a current Japanese kanji.
I displayed the list of famous Nio swordsmith names.
But the letter of his name doesn't accord in these names...

Nio(fuction of Nio) began in early 12c(Kamakura period) and prospered until the 16c(Muromachi period).
And they continued making katanas after 16c.

Kamakura period
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kamakura_period

Muromachi period
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muromachi_period

thanks ^^

I'm interested in Medieval Arms and Armor.
But... My English is very poor ><;
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Steven Biernacki




Location: Chicago
Joined: 18 Oct 2012

Posts: 21

PostPosted: Wed 24 Jul, 2013 3:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks to everyone for the information. Especially to Ushio and Edward for taking the time and translating it. Thanks again.

So is it safe to assume that the sword is post- WWII? Or is it an older blade with later furniture?


Thanks, Steven
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David McIntyre





Joined: 04 Aug 2006

Posts: 2

PostPosted: Wed 24 Jul, 2013 8:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think that your sword is probably made well before WWII. It looks like the sword may have been shortened based on the two holes in the nakago (tang) and that the nakago does not have the typical shape for a sword made by the Sue-Nio School. The hamon (temper line) looks to be consistent with the school's style being mostly straight and somewhat narrow from what I can see in the pictures. I couldn't find the particular smith's name right off in my books, but as has been stated earlier this sword school was making swords from the 12th century on so there are going to be a lot of different smiths in this school. Your sword looks like a nice blade with a good polish from what I can see in the pictures. I'm sorry I can't give a more precise date, but I'm pretty sure it is going to have been made prior to the 20th century. The koshirae (furniture) at first glance looks to be pre-WWII also, but it is hard to tell without more pictures. This sword is definitely a nice find.
Semper Fi. Carry on.
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Gabriel Lebec
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PostPosted: Tue 20 Aug, 2013 2:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello everyone. I am a little late to the party, but can offer some further information.

I believe the smith name is Kiyosada (清貞). The "sada" character looks different from modern "sada" but is in this form on old swords. Hawley's lists ~20 smiths with this name from Koto to Shinshinto period.

Full signature is 二王清貞作 – nio Kiyosada saku – Made by Kiyosada of Nio School.

Mei database lists one smith with this exact mei in Suo province ca. 1441-1444 AD.

Cross-referencing with Hawley's, I see a few more smiths dating from 1362–1544 using same signature or not listed with "saku," all from Suo province.

The biggest failing of my nihonto library is not many thorough Koto sources, but Kokan Nagayama's desk reference lists some Nio school information:

Quote:
Nio smiths were active through the end of the Edo period.
...
The Sue-Nio School:

The smiths... Kiyosada... belong to the later Sue-Nio school. Workmanship, based on the suguba of Yamato-den, is similar to that of Ko-Nio and bears a close resemblance to Sue-Tegai and Sue-Mihara as well.

Jihada: ...a weak mokume hada mixed with masame-hada and is not very visible. Mune-yaki and hera-kage are seen at times.

Hamon: The temper line is chu-suguba mixed with ko-midare. Nie is scarce and looks like nioi deki. Koshi-no-hiraita midare hamon with yaki-kuzure resemble work done by Sukesada.

Boshi: Boshi is ko-maru and midare komi. Often the patterns on the two sides are different.

Nakago: the nakagojiri is an exaggerated iriyamagata. The two characters for Nio are usually inscribed before the smith's signatures.


Despite the line that Nio smiths worked through late Edo, I see no Nio Kiyosada past Koto period in Hawley's, or the Shinto/Shinshinto Nihonto Koza.

In this case the nakago has been shortened (note the multiple mekugi-ana and the flat termination). The patina looks good for Koto period to my eyes. Is there chalk or talcum in the mei? OK if so but do not leave it there permanently. Chu-suguba looks correct re: hamon, cannot see hada or other details in pics. Tall shinogi may also be a Yamato-den trait. Long slender tachi shape is good too. Overall from these photos cannot rule out genuine mei, which is good news.

Koshirae are not gunto koshirae overall, especially not fittings and tsuka. With respect to Edward, the saya is a handachi style, popular in Shinshinto / gendai times but not quite the same as most gunto (especially not with aoigai lacquer). I would guess the sword was most recently remounted in shinshinto period. This is just an estimate however. The koshirae are of average quality, not too bad and in acceptable condition minus the missing kurikata and somewhat knackered itomaki.

It is absolutely a real old Japanese sword. Mei is not certain, would have to be authenticated through shinsa (or at least comparisons with genuine mei), but that is par for the course. Looks like there might be some ware (grain openings), minor flaws which speak to a less-perfect blade, but this is more forgivable the older the blade is.

I will see if I can find more. Blade is worth several thousand dollars minimum (could be worth quite a bit more, depending on if the mei is genuine and the quality of the workmanship) and is in surprisingly good condition since it was presumably not kept by someone who knew much about nihonto.

"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science." - Albert Einstein
________


Last edited by Gabriel Lebec on Tue 20 Aug, 2013 2:53 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Gabriel Lebec
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Location: NY, NY
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PostPosted: Tue 20 Aug, 2013 2:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Adding this as a second post for follow-up information.

Searching for Nio Kiyosada mei:

Japanese page on a Nio Kiyosada, with Hozon NBTHK papers. EDIT: if I'm reading this right, the dealer lists it as the 1441 Kiyosada, but the Hozon papers do not specify. The mei is pretty close to your mei. Price is listed as 68万3千 which I find oddly phrased to translate, but I THINK that means 683,000 Yen or $7000 USD which looks about right for the rough quality of the workmanship. I suspect this is the 1500s Kiyosada.

Another Nio Kiyosada.

Nio Kiyosada mounted in general's gunto mounts.

NTHK-certified 1550 Nio Kiyosada wakizashi, sold for $5500. EDIT: interestingly, seems to be missing the "Saku" kanji. Also the mei "handwriting" is not quite the same as yours.

NMB thread detailing a Nio Kiyosada, includes mei references.

Juyo Token level Nio Kiyosada tanto from Muromachi period (scroll down). Priced at $40,000 USD. EDIT: missing the "saku" kanji, which is understandable on short nakago, but also "handwriting" is slightly different from yours. This is the 1441 Kiyosada.

I think the most germane example here is the mei example posted by Jussi Ekholm from Fujishiro's reference:

Quote:
Kiyosada, Nio, [Eiroku 1558 Suo], sue-koto, chujosaku

He is the last of the line of one extended family of Nio, his works are mostly katana, ji is yowai, hamon is sugu hotsure. I have not seen any superior works, and this may be because he made a great number of uchimono (kazu-uchi mono).



The reason I highlight this example is because this mei is a fairly close match to your mei. It suggests your sword is by the last Nio Kiyosada (1558). The kazu-uchi mono quote is regrettable if applicable, but this is premature, the quality may or may not be high on your sword (not good enough to see in the photos).

IN ANY CASE, I rush to add that this is not a definitive appraisal. The photos only tell so much. To be sure, better photos and/or hands-on inspection would have to be shared with more knowledgeable people, e.g. at the Nihonto Message Board or more officially at Shinsa.

Still, it is a nice sword and I would be happy to own it. Congratulations again,

—Gabriel

"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science." - Albert Einstein
________
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Steven Biernacki




Location: Chicago
Joined: 18 Oct 2012

Posts: 21

PostPosted: Wed 02 Oct, 2013 11:44 am    Post subject: Thank You!         Reply with quote

Gabriel Lebec wrote:
Adding this as a second post for follow-up information.

Searching for Nio Kiyosada mei:

Japanese page on a Nio Kiyosada, with Hozon NBTHK papers. EDIT: if I'm reading this right, the dealer lists it as the 1441 Kiyosada, but the Hozon papers do not specify. The mei is pretty close to your mei. Price is listed as 68万3千 which I find oddly phrased to translate, but I THINK that means 683,000 Yen or $7000 USD which looks about right for the rough quality of the workmanship. I suspect this is the 1500s Kiyosada.

Another Nio Kiyosada.

Nio Kiyosada mounted in general's gunto mounts.

NTHK-certified 1550 Nio Kiyosada wakizashi, sold for $5500. EDIT: interestingly, seems to be missing the "Saku" kanji. Also the mei "handwriting" is not quite the same as yours.

NMB thread detailing a Nio Kiyosada, includes mei references.

Juyo Token level Nio Kiyosada tanto from Muromachi period (scroll down). Priced at $40,000 USD. EDIT: missing the "saku" kanji, which is understandable on short nakago, but also "handwriting" is slightly different from yours. This is the 1441 Kiyosada.

I think the most germane example here is the mei example posted by Jussi Ekholm from Fujishiro's reference:

Quote:
Kiyosada, Nio, [Eiroku 1558 Suo], sue-koto, chujosaku

He is the last of the line of one extended family of Nio, his works are mostly katana, ji is yowai, hamon is sugu hotsure. I have not seen any superior works, and this may be because he made a great number of uchimono (kazu-uchi mono).



The reason I highlight this example is because this mei is a fairly close match to your mei. It suggests your sword is by the last Nio Kiyosada (1558). The kazu-uchi mono quote is regrettable if applicable, but this is premature, the quality may or may not be high on your sword (not good enough to see in the photos).

IN ANY CASE, I rush to add that this is not a definitive appraisal. The photos only tell so much. To be sure, better photos and/or hands-on inspection would have to be shared with more knowledgeable people, e.g. at the Nihonto Message Board or more officially at Shinsa.

Still, it is a nice sword and I would be happy to own it. Congratulations again,

—Gabriel


I am sorry for this unforgivably late post, but its been incredibly busy and eventful for me lately.
In regards to the katana, I was actually asking these questions for a friend of mine, the true owner of the katana. He gave me the impression that he would be leaving the katana with me / selling the katana to me permanently so I can have it in my personal collection. Instead, unfortunately, I was obligated to return the katana to him just a few days before Gabriel Lebec posted his incredibly informative posts, the reason being he moved to Greece and did not want to leave the sword behind. I was not informed of this permanent trip prior to him taking the sword back, but I had no rights to keep the katana, and he was not negotiable in keep the sword with me.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to this forum, especially Gabriel Lebec and Ushio Kawana, but it seems this opportunity for me has come and gone, much to my dismay. I am very frustrated such a beautiful piece has slipped from my fingers. I will use all of your information for reference when working with katanas, I guarantee I will be seeing more swords like these in my future, so just know that all of your input will be put to good use one day

Again, another shout-out to Gabriel Lebec, I am astounded by wealth of information you came upon, and Ushio Kawana, your translations were absolutely invaluable in determining the history of the sword.

Thank You,

Steven Biernacki
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